'If I get out, who will I be?'

Tobias Beecher -Blizzard of '01


Closed Connections

By K9


The air had never seemed so sweet, and the chilly Eastern breeze was like a baby's first breath to Tobias Beecher as he walked from the Oswald State Penitentiary for what he was determined would be the last time. His parole had finally been granted, thanks to his lawyer with a little help from Sister Pete, he was sure. He finally had a chance to taste freedom for the first time in five years.

His father nodded knowingly as Toby rested for a moment against the car to simply breathe in the air and let the sun warm his skin.

Oz had changed him, probably irreparably, but some might say not necessarily for the worse.

He had been given everything in life, a well-to-do family, a privileged upbringing, the best schools and a nice comfortable job as a lawyer. On top of all of that he'd collected a pretty wife and three beautiful children; all the trappings of success and wealth until the 'accident' had changed everything.

The only problem with that idyllic scenario was that Tobias knew he was no 'innocent victim of circumstance.' What he'd done was solely his fault, because 'that' Tobias Beecher was often a weak and selfish man, easily pressured by his peers, who failed to listen when people pointed out his sometimes self destructive nature.

He'd spent a lifetime trading on his impeccable manners and quiet charm, both of which had excused him from every transgression he'd ever committed in his life.

He'd been a decent man, but not blameless by any means, and he'd often skipped issues because he'd felt that a 'man like him' didn't need to worry about that kind of thing.

He wasn't an alcoholic; he just liked to drink. Drugs weren't a 'problem', they were just an occasional recreation; it wasn't like he was some street punk hooked on junk after all.

His secret attraction to men, and occasional adulteries with muscular young studs in randomly chosen gay bars, were filed away with every other 'flaw' he knew he had but couldn't admit to.

And a simple 'I'm sorry' had always worked with people, until Oz. That was Toby's real punishment, the final realization that 'endearing' wasn't worth shit anymore.

Now Oz was over, and as long as he stayed out of trouble, he could begin to rebuild his life with his family again.

So why was it that as he stood here outside of the prison, freedom finally within his grasp, all he could think about was Christopher Keller?

Finally, he climbed into the car, and his father pulled away, heading for home where the kids had prepared a 'surprise' for Daddy. Toby felt a heavy place in his chest when he thought of his one baby who wouldn't be there; tortured and murdered by Vern Schillinger's son, Hank, to strike back at him for daring to defy the Aryan brotherhood. But he must console himself with the fact that the other kids needed him, having been robbed of not only their sibling but also their mother, and he had a responsibility to them, especially considering what they'd been through.

"Did you get that information I asked you to, about Chris Keller?" Toby asked suddenly.

"Could you at least wait until you're home before you start asking about that man?" Beecher senior sighed.

"I need to know that he's okay."

"Tobias, the man is a murderer, forget him!"

"So am I!" Toby raged, incensed by his father's attitude, "I killed someone, remember?"

"It's not the same thing," Mr. Beecher snapped back.

"Of course it is. Kathy Rockwell is still dead. You wouldn't be saying that if someone had killed Holly while they were drunk and in a car acting like an idiot. If there's one thing I've learned in Oz, Dad, it's that we're all equal in the eyes of the law and God."

"You are *not* the same as that man, I will never believe that." Beecher Senior gritted his teeth and determinedly watched the road ahead, ignoring his son's angry stare.

"Okay, I can do it myself," Toby sighed. "I'll call some people when I get home and organize a visit to Cedar Junction for as soon as possible."


"End of conversation, Dad."




It was strange, the feeling he was experiencing. It was like stepping outside of his body and watching himself, holding the ivory and gilt telephone and standing in his father's study, but Toby knew that what he was hearing was only too real.

"I'm sorry, Mr. Beecher, but Christopher Keller died six weeks ago."


"H...how?" Toby stuttered finally.

"In an attack by another inmate. He was stabbed in the chest and unfortunately died on the way to the hospital. Are you family, sir?"

"No, just a friend." The words came out surprisingly calmly. The woman on the other end of the telephone continued to speak, but all that Toby could hear from this point onwards, was his own heart breaking.

"Oh, well, my condolences on your loss."

"Who claimed the body?" Toby croaked through a tight throat.

"Erm...a Mrs. Bonita Kowalski. I believe she was an ex-wife of the deceased."

"Yeah, Bonnie. Have you any idea where he's buried?"

"I'm sorry, Mr. Beecher, I don't. Maybe if you get in touch with Mrs. Kowalski, she might be able to tell you?"

"Yes, thanks anyway." Toby placed the phone back on the cradle.

He was shaking now; the tremble that had begun in his hands had engulfed his body. An almost unbearable loneliness washed over him, and he leaned his head in his hands before the tears forced their way out, wracking his body with soul-piercing sobs of pain.

After all they'd been through, all that had happened, still they were going to be denied one last moment together.




The grave was simple but tasteful. Bonnie, despite her protestations to the contrary, was clearly still deeply in love with Christopher Keller and as her last act of love towards him, she had buried him in her family plot, beneath a rangy old cedar tree.

Toby stood looking down at the plain alabaster stone with mixed emotions. In some quiet way it probably brought him full circle and truly closed off the part of his life that was the Oswald State Penitentiary.

Chris Keller was gone; the only thing that still anchored him to the past five years, but the wound Chris had left was still new, raw and unhealed. Maybe time would fix that, and maybe he'd never truly recover from the frightening love he'd felt for Keller. Either way, he'd never forget what happened between them.

He had always classified himself as a heterosexual man until Oz despite his lifelong dalliances with men. Then, raped and degraded by Schillinger, he had fallen in love with another man and one as dangerous and manipulative as Chris Keller to boot. But as the old saying goes, 'love knows no boundaries,' and love it most assuredly was. It had been real in every way, as real as anything he'd ever felt for his wife, and it had changed Tobias Beecher in such a fundamental way that he wasn't sure he could ever be the same man again.

Placing a small spray of flowers on the grave, Toby let his fingers linger on the stone.

"I'm sorry I wasn't there to watch your back," he whispered. "I just hope you knew how much I loved you before you died."

His face was gaunt and pale, the result of too little sleep, and he'd lost even more weight than when he was in prison. Nothing in his life seemed to matter anymore. Every day he went through the motions, but there was no texture to his existence, and life had lost its flavor.

"I failed you, like I failed everyone else in my life," he said, as a tear rolled inexorably down his cheek. "Why couldn't it be me who paid the price this time?"

The wind blew cold again as fall threatened to turn to winter and another year was almost at its end. Death and rebirth, the endless cycle.

Tobias Beecher walked away; his new beginning was just around the corner, but right at this moment, he wasn't sure he'd ever make it past this point: the death of his lover.




A Year Later

Watching the trees fly past from the windows of the Amtrak always made Toby feel sleepy. Or maybe it was a weekend spent with his kids that had worn him out?

It hadn't worked living back with his parents, back in his old neighborhood, after everything that had happened. Not to mention seeing his victim's parents on the street almost every day, which had upset him almost as much as it did them.

When John Fielding, an old law associate, had told him about the 'prison advocacy project' going on in the north, and then offered him a job at the project, he'd taken it without a second thought.

The only problem was the kids, who had become settled with their grandparents. In the end, he'd come to an understanding with his parents that the children should live with them for the time being, and he'd return every other weekend when he wasn't working and spend time with them.

It was a hell of a journey though, especially since he could no longer drive. His driving license had been revoked for life after the accident, and he wasn't sure he could have faced being behind the wheel anyway.

At least being in a totally new environment was making life a little more tolerable though, so the hardships were generally outweighed by the benefits.

When eventually he stepped off the train and headed for the bus station and the last leg of the journey, Toby realized he was exhausted. One short bus ride and he'd be almost home, a nice little apartment in what felt like the coldest place on earth this time of year, but it was all his and it felt 'safe'.

The bus dropped him at the corner outside the power plant, leaving him a twenty-minute walk in the biting cold.

Shrugging his backpack onto his shoulders, Toby decided to take a shortcut through the woods alongside the government building, to cut some time off his journey. It was almost midnight, and he was bone weary. He glanced into the tree-lined darkness and sighed, was there really anything darker and more frightening than he'd experienced in Oz, hiding in those trees?

The idea of being home ten minutes faster seemed infinitely more appealing than the relative safety of the brightly lit street, so Toby took the plunge and headed into the woods.

Not sure if it was the cold or just the inordinate amount of Pepsi he'd consumed on the train, but Toby decided that he couldn't wait to get home, he badly needed to piss right *now*.

Stepping into the dense cover of the trees, he unzipped, and as the steady stream of urine hissed against the tree, he sighed his relief.

Suddenly he heard the sound of a vehicle pulling up sharply on the road just beyond the woodland.

Keeping quiet just in case he was breaking some bizarre local law, Toby waited in the shadows until he heard the sound of voices. Curiosity piqued, he peered from the darkness and saw a black van hastily parked on the grass verge.

Two darkly clad figures leaped out, and in seconds they'd opened the chain fence that surrounded the government building. Disappearing inside, they were gone for just a few minutes, and Toby was rooted to the spot.

If he was caught in the middle of a burglary, he'd head back to Oz so fast that his feet wouldn't touch the floor.

Suddenly terrified, he cowered in the shadows. He hoped that they'd soon be gone and he could run the rest of the way home, before the fear of being sent back to Oz robbed him of his senses completely.

In a few moments, the figures reappeared, and the tallest of them stripped off his mask before he opened the van door.

"Chris?" Toby gasped as the familiar profile of Christopher Keller was outlined in the moonlight.

The man turned slightly and frowned.

Toby half stepped from the cover, shock and elation making him bold.

"Chris?" he said again a little louder.

The man's eyes widened for a moment, then he shoved the other figure roughly into the van, shaking his head and climbing in behind, before the vehicle sped off into the night.

When Toby stumbled onto the road he was trembling. "Chris!"




"Tobias?" Beecher senior mumbled, "Is everything all right?"

"Dad, I saw Chris!" Toby was breathless and high on adrenaline, the telephone shaking in his hand.

"It's almost one a.m. Are you all right?"

"I really did. It was him, I know it was. I want you to contact Jerry in the morning and get him on the case. Chris is alive, and I want to find out why Cedar Junction is covering this up with his fake death."


"No 'buts', Dad, I want this done, okay?"

"Yes, yes, all right, but are you okay, son?"

"Never been better, Dad. I gotta go get a shower, but just promise me that you'll get on this first thing in the morning?"

Beecher senior sighed, "Yes, I will."

"Great, thanks, Dad. Love you." Toby replaced the phone, his hands still trembling and a tremor of something running through his body. Excitement? Lust? Fear?

Hurrying into the bathroom, he stripped and showered, eager for the morning to come and the search for Chris to begin.




It had only been two days, but already Toby was becoming irritable at how slowly things were progressing. Jerry had been unable to find out anything much from Cedar Junction. All they knew was that Chris Keller died on the way to hospital of a massive blood loss and ruptured right ventricle. He'd been taken to Bluelake Memorial Hospital before being transferred to the local morgue.

After work, Toby made his way home quickly so that he could continue with his own investigation via the internet. At least that way he'd feel like he was doing something. Sliding the key into the lock, he let himself into his apartment and turned on the light, only to be faced with darkness.

"Fuck! Not again," he grumbled as he flipped the switch back and forth without any response.

Trying the table lamp, he discovered that it was still working and could at least shed a little light, enough for him to find the power relay box.

Suddenly, he felt a presence in the room, and at the same moment a voice spoke from the darkness.

"Hello, Toby."

Wheeling instinctively on his heels, grabbing the lamp in defense, Toby came face to face with...Chris Keller.

"Chris!" his face fell into an open-mouthed gape.

"You gonna hit me with that?" Keller gestured to the lamp, and the corner of his mouth twitched into a half smile, made all the more eerie by the cast shadows from the shaking light source.

Slamming the lamp back onto the desk, Toby moved forward and wrapped his arms around Chris Keller, hugging tightly. Tentatively, Keller hugged back.

"They said you were dead," Toby's voice was muffled by Keller's shoulder.

"Yeah, I know."

"What the fuck happened, Chris?"

Keller pulled away coldly and crossed his arms across his chest. There was still the familiar arrogance in his stance and the old Keller swagger in the way he moved, but now there was also something else, too.

"You have to call your Dad and his buddies off trying to find me, Toby," he stated.

"What happened to you?" Toby insisted.

"That doesn't matter. You just have to stop this 'investigation'."

"It does fucking matter!"

"Beecher, quit being an asshole for once in your life," Keller snarled, "You have no idea what you're getting yourself and your family into here."

"Then why don't you tell me?"

"Because I don't want you dead, you stupid fuck!" Keller rubbed his hand across his face, "What I'm involved in now is so much scarier than Oz ever was. These people mean business, they're ruthless and cold..."

"Oh and living with Vern Schillinger wasn't?"

"Beecher, Schillinger is a fucking Boy scout in comparison!" Keller grabbed Toby's arms, "If they find out that you've recognized me, they'll kill you, then they'll kill me. Then, to tidy up, they'll kill your dad and the investigator he has on the job, and just for good measure they'll probably spirit your kids away too, God knows where they'll end up. Do you want that?"

"Who are 'they'?"

Keller shook his head and rested on the edge of the desk. "A kind of black ops government organization. They arranged to have me 'killed' in prison, so officially I really am dead, by the way. Then they gave me a choice, I could work for them, do their dirty work and kill people, or they'd shoot me like a dog. I spent six months in training, the last six months I've been a field operative, but I'm watched and monitored pretty closely. I took a huge risk coming here, if they find out; I'm canceled and you're dead."

"Why can't you escape?" Toby asked, "I'll come with you, we can get out of the country..."

"Toby, there *is* no escape from 'Section'. People have tried before, better people than me, and they've failed. Trust me, I've thought about it, more than once, but I've also seen the results of other people trying. I'm a survivor, you know that, and my instinct tells me not to try to buck *this* system because I'll lose."

"I've missed you so much," Toby said suddenly.

"Yeah, I missed you too. We're real fuck-ups, huh?" Keller smiled softly and pulled Toby into his arms, burying his face in Toby's neck and breathing in deeply.

"How often will you be able to get away?"

"Never. This is it, Toby. I risked everything to come here tonight and warn you off, but I can't risk it again. I never know where we'll be from day to day. The Section moves us around."

"You mean I'll never see you again?"


Pulling away, Toby glared into Keller's eyes. "That's not good enough. I can't lose you again."

"You lost me over a year ago. I'm dead, you gotta forget me, man."

"I can't...I love you."

"Please, Toby, don't say that. This is it for us. You have to call your dad tomorrow, and tell him that you were mistaken. Tell him that you'd been drinking."


"Yes! Do you want your family to die?" Keller raged, "Dear God, Beecher, you have no *idea* how these people work. I'm trying to protect you, why can't you see that?"

"Well...why can't I join this organization? Then at least we'd be together."

Dropping down into a chair, Chris Keller sighed, "You ever see those old vampire movies when you were a kid? The ones where people asked the vampire to turn them because they wanted to live forever, be young for all eternity?" he asked finally.

"Yeah, so?"

"You remember what they always said, about immortality being a curse, not a gift?"


"Well, that's what it's like working for Section. Toby, I don't want to see you mixed up with those pricks. I've seen what they can do, and they scare *me*. I'm begging you to just forget you saw me tonight and go on believing I'm dead."


"Call your dad tomorrow, tell him that you had a minor relapse and had a drink, but you just joined an AA group here, and this time you're going to stay sober. Tell him that you didn't really see me, that it was some guy who looked similar but the booze made you see what you wanted to."

Tobias Beecher sank down slowly onto the sofa. He ran his fingers through his hair nervously.

"Okay. On one condition."

"Toby, you're not in a position to make fucking conditions!" Keller snarled, "I should kill you just for recognizing me!"

Toby looked up, right into Keller's eyes, "One condition, Chris, you stay with me tonight. One last time together."

The shocked look on Keller's face almost made Toby laugh.

"Sex? You'd risk both our necks for a night of *sex*?" Keller gasped.

This time Toby did laugh. "Yeah. What's the matter Keller, you forget how while you've been playing with these 'toy soldiers' the past year? Or maybe you've found someone else?"

"No, there's no one else," Keller shook his head, "You promise me that if I do as you ask, you'll call your dad tomorrow and stop everything you're doing?"

"Yeah, I'll play the 'fallen from grace' version of Tobias Beecher for ya."

Rising from the chair and moving over to the sofa, Keller sat down next to his old lover. "Why don't I believe you?"

"Have I ever lied to you?"


A familiar, slightly manic smile spread across Toby's face. "Ain't life a bitch?"

"I'll stay if you promise me on your kids' lives that you'll call off the investigator."

"Sure, I'll do that. I don't need to find you now; you're already here."

"Toby, have you listened to a word I've said?" Keller slid his hand along Toby's face and held his gaze forcibly.

"Yeah, you asked me to call off the investigators, and I'll do that first thing tomorrow."

"And you'll never try to find me again?"

With a smile, Toby slipped his hand up Keller's thigh, eventually cupping his cock and balls gently through the clingy, dark fabric. At the same time, he moved in for a kiss.

He didn't want to *lie* to Keller, and say that he'd forget him after tonight. It wasn't a lie if you just didn't answer the question. There was no way he was going to let this go so easily. He'd mourned for a year, lived like a monk, and dreamed of Chris Keller every damned night.

There wasn't an 'organization' on earth that could stop him being with Chris now.

"Fuck!" Keller gasped as Toby's fingers went to work on his now-hardening cock.

"That's the plan."

Toby slid his hand beneath the tight black shirt and caressed the familiar flesh. Taut muscle quivered to his touch, and he thrilled as Keller's breath hitched when skin met hot skin.

They stumbled into the bedroom, still clawing and kissing, pawing each other frantically.

He'd almost forgotten what Chris Keller really tasted like until he began kissing him again and how he always closed his eyes when he was aroused by a touch.

The first time he'd seen it was when they were wrestling in the gym while in Oz. It had been a seemingly innocent male pursuit, but when Toby had at last pinned Chris to the floor and held him down, those piercing eyes had closed, and a satisfied smile crept upon his face.

It was then he'd felt it, Keller's cock, hard and pulsing against his belly. It had shocked and excited him, and he'd eventually pulled away, not quite sure what to say or do. When finally Keller's eyes had opened, they'd had an almost boyish mischief to them, and Toby wasn't sure if he was being teased or seduced.

"Get naked," Toby growled and Chris Keller couldn't hold back the laugh any longer.

"Yes, *sir*," he gasped, stripping the shirt over his head and pushing down the black pants.

Toby loved to watch Keller undress, peeling away the layers like opening a surprise Christmas gift from a loved one.

The man could make slipping off boxer shorts into the most erotic sensation he'd witnessed since the first time Toby had seen his next-door neighbor in the shower. She'd been soaping herself all over, and her eyes were closed in ecstasy, as the warm water trickled down her back.

He was fifteen years old, and he was hard for days back then. Exactly the effect this little strip was having on him right now.

Sliding out of his clothes, Toby dropped them on the floor haphazardly, and reached out for Keller, pulling him close.

"A night together without the hacks hammering on the walls, huh?" Toby laughed.

"Yeah. Of course if Section finds out I'm here, they'll just come in and shoot us instead."

"Always looking for problems, eh, Chris?" Toby reached into the bedside cabinet and pulled out lube and condoms.

"Oh, you got everything you need. You been entertaining, Toby?" Keller asked a little angrily.

"No, I just jerk off a lot."

"And you need rubbers to do that?"

"I just play safe and keep some here..."

"...In case you get lucky?"

"Yeah. Now you gonna fuck me, or are you gonna talk all night?" Toby climbed onto the bed and reached up, pulling Keller down onto him and into a hot, hard kiss.

"I've missed you, you son-of-a-bitch," Keller growled playfully.

"You're still a sweet-talking bastard," Toby laughed, "And I've missed you, too, so damned much!"

Toby's hand slid up Chris's neck, slipping easily through his now finely cropped hair. That was one of the differences, Chris had 'buzzed' his hair, and he was closely shaven now; Toby wasn't sure he liked it as much, but all that really mattered was that Chris was here, in his arms, tonight.

The feel of those lips on his body, tasting him, tenderly suckling on his nipples, was like fire on ice, and Toby melted to the touch. This is all he'd dreamed of since Chris had walked away that day in Oz, chained and manacled, having lied to save Toby and his family.

The ultimate sacrifice; the ultimate declaration of love.

"You been sleeping around, Toby?" Keller hissed and pinned Toby's arms above his head while he kissed at his throat roughly.


"So, you're a born again virgin, huh?"

"I only want you."

"But I'm 'dead'."

"I only want *you*, Chris, *please*."

"You gotta find someone, Toby. After tonight, I want you to forget me and go find yourself a nice woman to take care of you and your kids." Keller thrust against him hotly, but his words were tinged with sadness.


"Promise me!"

"Yeah...yeah, okay, I will. Please, let's not talk about this now?"

"Okay," Teasingly, Keller nudged at Toby with his hard cock. "You look real needy here, 'Tobias.'" he smiled.

Toby had missed that smile, the way it made him feel, how easily it could crumble his defenses, even when things had been so bad in Oz. How it could shatter him into a million pieces and make him beg, and Christopher Keller; ace manipulator, knew that.

"I need *you*." Toby pulled his hand free and stroked Keller's face gently. "Say it!"

"Okay," Keller purred. "Suck my dick."

Shivering, Toby pushed Keller back on the bed and scooted down until he was nestled in the other man's crotch. The familiar scent filled him. It took no thought before he curled his lips around the glistening cock head, licking and sucking gently. Thrilling at the moans and gasps his work was already eliciting.

This was how it always began, Chris would make him beg for it; make him suck dick until he was on the edge, but somehow, in the end, Toby always ended up calling the shots and getting exactly what *he* wanted.

"Aw...fuck!" Keller shuddered and threaded his fingers through Toby's hair, "Not all the way, man. I wanna...Oh *fuck*!"

With a smile, Toby hummed a happy tune and continued, running his tongue along the pulsing veins, dipping into the slit teasingly, while his fingers played softly with Chris's balls, stroking the delicate skin beyond until he had Christopher Keller shaking with the need he felt himself.

"You ready to fuck me yet?" he asked at last in a sultry voice.

"Yes! Shit...yes..." Keller pulled him close and rolled them both over.

Lifting Toby slightly, he slicked them both up and pushed into him with one even stroke. Toby bucked as the familiar fire raced through his veins, and once again Chris Keller filled him, feeding that forbidden need that he'd tried to quell for over a year. He could feel the pulse pounding in Keller's cock, racing to the same beat as his own heartbeat, which slammed at his chest.

Keller smiled down at him and dragged his tongue across Toby's throat, nipping and biting when he saw Toby begin to relax into the sensation, making him gasp as the tender line between pain and pleasure blurred.

When Keller suddenly grasped Toby's erection and lightly stroked a few times, it sent him spiraling into orgasm way too fast, and he heard Keller laugh as he watched Toby spill onto his own chest.

"You are needy, huh?" Keller teased, but he was close behind and with a last groan of pleasure he came hard.

Together they lay sprawled; arms wrapped around each other, a sticky layer of come pressed between them, and the scent of sex heavy in the air.

It still amazed Toby sometimes just how erotic it could be to have a man's body lying heavily on top of him, to feel solid muscle and sinew beneath his hands and to experience the heat of another cock against his belly or pressing into his body.

He'd been repulsed and shocked in Oz, when Vern Schillinger had raped and abused him after gaining his trust, and he didn't think he'd ever want to be touched by a man again. Then, he'd met Chris Keller and the initial attraction had frightened him to the very core of his being.

"I love you, Chris," Toby whispered as the darkness blanketed them, and he held on to his lover's body desperately, trying to remember every touch, every smell and sound to file it away for the time when they'd be apart forever.

"I know. I love you, Toby."

"Can't we find some way around all of this?" Toby asked with what was possibly his last shred of hope.

Rolling back onto the bed, Keller wiped his chest and belly with tissues that had been placed on the bedside table. "Not this time. I gotta go, I'll be missed. Remember now, you go find yourself a nice girl and settle down, be happy."

"Why are you so insistent I find a woman?" Toby asked with a smile.

"Because I don't want no guys touching you," Keller snapped, "I don't want you fucking around with men who'll just use you and dump you."

"So you do care?" Toby's tone was teasing, but Keller tensed.

"You know I do. If I didn't, I wouldn't be risking my ass to be here."

"I'm just joking, Chris. I'm sorry, I didn't mean to upset you."

Chris Keller slid from the bed, "I gotta go, Toby."

Turning on the bedside light, Tobias Beecher looked up into the face of his companion, seeing his own turmoil mirrored in Keller's eyes, "Don't go yet?"

"I have to. I can't sleep with you all night, knowing that in the morning I've gotta walk away forever. I just can't. Have a good life, Tobias Beecher, you sure as hell deserve it," Keller reached down and stroked Toby's face gently, and a myriad of emotions danced across his face.

"No," Toby could feel the tears stinging the back of his eyes, "I don't want it to end this way."

"We're out of options here. Oh, and Beecher?"


"You once asked me if I'd ever felt this way about another guy. When I said 'no', you told me I was lying. I wasn't." Keller shrugged on his jacket and pulled up the zipper, "Fucking and love really are different things after all. You taught me the difference, you know?"

Toby climbed from the bed and wrapped his arms around Keller tightly.

"It was a hell of a gift to give a guy, I can tell ya that," Keller whispered softly, "I'll always love you."

In a moment he'd slipped from the door and had disappeared into the darkness. Tobias Beecher fell to the floor in the middle of the bedroom and clutched his knees to his chest. This was almost worse than losing him the first time, because now he knew he was out there, but untouchable...and alone.




Chris Keller made his way quietly into the temporary Section HQ and headed for his room.

"Where have you been?" a voice whispered.

Keller swung around angrily, then smiled, "For a walk."

Birkoff glared at him, "You know that's not allowed while you're on probation?"

Head and shoulders taller than the younger man, Keller moved in close, "I know, but I needed some air. Why, Birkoff, you gonna tell on me?" he slid his hand around Birkoff's neck and drew him into a kiss.

"No," Birkoff said quietly as they broke away, "But I can't keep protecting you. I faked your records for the night, made it seem like you were here, but I can't do that again, they'll notice."

"You're a good boy," Keller smiled a little sadly and rubbed his hand across the young man's growing erection, "Wanna come get your reward later?"

Swallowing hard, Birkoff looked around, "Yes." He decided finally as he watched Keller saunter away down the corridor, looking deceptively unconcerned.


The End